Sunday, November 30, 2008

30 Days: The Singularity Matrix

30 Days: The Singularity Matrix

This adventure started at 12:00 AM on Saturday, November 1, and has now ended at around 3:30 PM, Sunday, November 30, and 70,644 words later. I'm exhausted, spent, and pretty sad that it's over. I've put my life on hold while I spent every minute I can working on this sequel to the original 30 Days. It's a little too soon for a post-mortem on it, I'll give it a week and then think about how I did. My first impression is that I did pretty well. I created a couple of characters I really like and care about, and I hope to write more about in the future. It's like any good book you're read: you're dying to know what happens after the book ends. I've thrown in a few teasers for ideas I have, but nothing's set in stone at this point. I don't know if I want to wait for November 2009 to pick this story up again.
At some point I also hope to edit it, maybe not into something marketable, but at least reduce the number of plot holes and inconsistencies, fix up the time line, and add some more descriptive scenery so people get a better picture of the action. I'm at least going to put some notes on each chapter so I have something to remember if I ever come back to it.
Now it's back to my normal, boring, unexciting life of paying bills and going to work. See you next November!
Here is the final list of chapters in order. PINK is Agent Ellie, BLACK is Alex Ross:
And here's an "alternate" or "extended" ending by Agent Ellie:

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Won! Update 6

I Won! Update 6

Well I finally hit 50K over the weekend, not surprisingly. Everything is downhill from here. ;)
Now comes the time of reckoning: who lives, who dies, who becomes a hero, who escapes to fight another day, what's going to happen with the deadly Singularity Matrix.
I think this will be my last update until Sunday night when everything is said and done. I hope you enjoy the rest of the story!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blogvel Update 5

Blogvel Update 5

Things are really heating up. With little over a week to go, everything is beginning to unravel. The kewl thing is that I finally introduced a kid into the story. I literally have this as the third line of my planning notes for this year's NaNo: "What about a kid?  Where can we throw a kid into the mix?"
Her name is Julia and she's a Filipino orphan brought to the pirate ship through human trafficking. I think she definitely brings a new dimension to the story. There is a ton of things I can do with her, being a hormonal teenager and all, but for now she's going to me more of a foil for the other characters.

Coming soon: be prepared for "Nuclear Thanksgiving."  It will blow you away.

Here is the up-to-date list of chapters in order. PINK is Agent Ellie, BLACK is Alex Ross:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Singularity Matrix

The Singularity Matrix
NaNoWriMo seems a little more difficult this year. And by that I don't mean the story. I'm actually on the same pace as last year.
It's trying to fit it into my life. It's taken a bit of a toll around here. It's hard to try to handle the End of the World, keep a job and a marriage together.
You may have noticed I renamed some things around here. 30 Days is now 30 Days: The Infinity Effect, and the current project is now 30 Days: The Singularity Matrix.
Those titles sound esoteric enough to mean anything. 
Here's the full chapter update IN ORDER. Black is Alex Ross, Pink is Agent Ellie:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blogvel Update 3

Blogvel Update 3 - Here they go Again

I'm a little bit disturbed at what Alex and Ellie are up to, not to mention You Know Who(booo).

The world seems to be in great danger right now. I don't know how they're going to stop what's happening. I don't know if people should be near big cities right now. The next couple weeks are going to be extremely hairy. Stay tuned, and I'll try to keep you updated on the latest. Don't forget you can ping Alex and Ellie at alex_ross@dawnsrise.com and hitgirl524@dawnsrise.com or just comment on their blogs. They'd love to hear from you.

Here are all the posts so far newest first:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blogvel Update 2

Blogvel Update 2

They've been at it some more! Alex is trying to survive in the Chinese labor camp while Ellie tries to go-it-alone as an assassin-for hire.



Monday, November 3, 2008

Blogvel Update 1

Blogvel Update 1

Well Alex Ross and Agent Ellie have been busy blogging away.
So far they've made 4 posts (in order):
I'm hoping they move to present activites soon, but I guess so much happened since Alex's last post on November 30, 2007 that he's allowed a little catch-up.

Also notice that the NaNoWriMo progress chart ain't working. I added my own progress bar so you can see where I am.

BTW I just Googled "Blogvel" and I'm the #1 result!!
http://www.google.com/search?q=blogvel

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Introducing...


Introducing My Interactive NaNoWriMo Blogvel:

"Another 30 Days"!

So here's the deal for NaNoWriMo 2008:

I've got these guys wanting to blog about their adventures but they would love to hear from you! So I've set up some groundrules:

You can comment or email the characters. They may or may not respond online (although they will respond in private if it doesn't add to the story). Comments will be moderated.
Every word of every post counts towards my NaNo word count. Any public responses to readers may/may not count depending on whether it adds to the story or whether it's just a clarification. Comments readers make do not count towards the overall word count.
I'm going to keep the comment word count separate. The characters may comment on each other's blogs but those fully count towards the overall word count and should be considered part of the story. :) Anything I or they post on this blog doesn't count towards the word count.
Only words written between 12:00am Nov. 1, 2008 and 12:00am Dec. 1 2008 count.

I'm going to try to not require any knowledge of last year's NaNo writings for people to enjoy this year's work. I'm hoping it will stand on its own.

So to start reading the Blogvel, look at the posts over to the right under the NaNoWriMo stats.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If I Were a Writer...


If I Were a Writer...

I'd write in the morning.
I'd write in the evening, all over this land.
I'd write out danger, I'd write out warning!
I'd write out love between my sisters and my brothers
All over this land!


Peter, Paul and Mary 
(Original song "If I had a hammer" by Pete Seeger)

Seriously, though...if I was a writer, I'd spend my days reading lots of books, fiction and non, critiquing other people's work, sending out manuscripts (and receiving rejection letters), editing, working out, and drinking lots of beer.

Now if I could just get paid for all that I'd be set...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exciting News!

Exciting News!

I don't know if you guys remember Alex Ross, the guy who took over my blog last November. He told a story about a bunch of crazy people running around trying to stop some kind of weird mind-altering machine.

Well I just heard from him. Apparently he's been "activated" or something on some kind of new mission. He escaped from where ever he's been held the last 11 months and is now able to blog. Right now as I type this he's in transit and unable to communicate, but he thinks he'll be able to start blogging regularly sometime early Saturday morning.

He asked me if I could create a login and a blog for him this time.
You can email him at alex _ ross at dawns rise dot com (take out spaces and substitute at and dot). He might reply to you or on his blog, but he'd really prefer not to talk about what happened last year. You can see his blog at http://alexross-blog.blogspot.com/   and you can subscribe here: Subscribe

I'm sure he'll have an interesting story to tell, but he wants to remind everyone that a lot of what he writes is in code, so that names, places, and events are altered from what's really going on. He'll tell us as much as he can, and maybe when he's in the clear he can reveal a little more. Enjoy!




ALEX and ELLIE together again!


(actually a cover from Fighting Man of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Life In Progress

My Life In Progress

Sending out a quick update on a number of things:

Running: Completely dead. I've been working on my Physical Therapy: twice a week sessions with a therapist involving extremely painful "trigger rolls", ultrasound, and then equally painful ice massage. I've tried to run for a minute or two on the treadmill but the ankle pain starts to flare up again. So my routine has gone from 20+ miles a week to 2 days/week swimming and 2 days/week elliptical/stationary bike/stair climber. So much for my goal of 1000 miles running in 2008.

Swimming: I'm progressing. I'm learned a ton about what not to do but I'm still struggling trying to complete several laps in progression. Even the easiest triathlon I know about requires 400 meters of swimming which is the equivalent of 8 laps in the pool (8 out and 8 back). I'm going to sign up for another month.

Diet: Well as of today I'm down to 211 from 217. My weight's been fluctating all over the place but today was the first day I've seen 211 so I think something's working so far. 11 lbs to go before Thanksgiving (about 9 weeks--doable but not that easy). I think the swimming has been helping because afterwards I feel warm for a few hours.

Writing: As you can tell, I got nothing. BUT! NaNoWriMo is just 6 weeks away, when my blog is suddenly taken over by a bunch of maniacal secret agents. Between now and then I'm hoping to get some Dawn's Rise work in, but I think I'm going to be more focussed on 30 Days by the end of the October.

Aging: Well there's been some progress, at least on the clutter side. We've spent the last couple of months really working on cleaning, and now I think the balance has swung back to the "clean" side for a change. We still have a lot of clutter, including 3 rooms so full of boxes you can't walk through them, but now I feel like we have a chance. We've moved back to the repaired bedroom, and now we can work on getting the kids' rooms refloored. Our plan is to take out the carpets and replace them with some kind of wood floor with area rugs. Much easier to keep clean and the rugs can be replaced a lot easier. 

So that's about it. Just trying to get through each day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Training like Michael Phelps

Training like Michael Phelps

But not really. He eats something like 12,000 calories a day.
So a couple things have happened: My ankle is too sore for running, and I've been gaining weight. I had been running 20+ miles a week, which burns about 3000+ calories at my weight. Note that a pound of fat roughly equals 3500 calories. So even though I'm getting in some exercise in the form of elliptical, stairs, and cycling machines, I'm probably burning only 1000 calories with that effort. So needless to say I need to do something to make up for both the loss of calorie burning activity and the gain of weight.
My new goal is to start losing 1lb a week. This morning I weighed in at 217, above my "official" doctor recommended maximum weight of 210 and my personal goal of sub-200. I start physical therapy next week on my ankle after giving it a couple weeks of rest/ice therapy. My goal is to get to 200lbs by Thanksgiving. That's 17lbs in 13 weeks (maybe I should shoot for xmas instead).
First for diet. Unfortunately (dietwise) I work at a place that supplies free food and snacks. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all gourmet catered meals. It's become known as the "______ Fifteen", after the weight you gain after you start working here. The food is healthy and organic, but I eat way too much of it. I also have fallen in love with a local beer store/bar and I've been drinking way to much of thick, rich, alcoholic brews. I want to reduce my consumption by at least 500 calories a day (500 x 7 = 3500, the amount of calories in a pound of fat).  That's a pretty significant reduction. There's about 200 calories in 12oz of beer, so by having 2 fewer beers a day I'm almost there. (I don't drink 2 a day but I could cut out a few here and there)
I need to be better disciplined at work and at home. I eat way too much fruit and nuts. I also need to consider reducing the amount of caffeine I drink since that also messes with your fat storage system.
So now on to the exercise part. I can't run right now without pain. (Note that I often run with discomfort. It's a given. But pain is different because I can't run with a limp.) And I also think maybe I've been too focused on running. So starting tomorrow I've signed up for a group swimming course. I'll be swimming every Mon/Wed at 8-8:30 am. Hopefully I won't be so sleepy I drown. I'm also going to look at a spin class (biking on a stationary bike in a group). So I figure within a week or two I'll be swimming like Michael Phelps (or at least not drowning).
If this all goes according to plan, and I recover my running ability, this leads to something interesting: If I learn how to swim, and get more into biking, we could be looking at a triathlon somewhere down the road. It's been the swimming part that's held me up from trying in the past (and my crappy 15yo bike). It will at least be a good workout.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Super-Secret Chili Recipe

My Super-Secret Chili Recipe

I've redacted some of the ingredients in order to keep this secret. IMHO it's the best Chili I've had. Feel free to experiment, it's really hard to mess this one up.
Start with one can of ____ beans and one can of _____ beans. I like Bush's or Progresso. Just throw the entire contents of the cans into a large pot (4 qt at least I think). Then add a can of _____ tomatoes. Start it simmering at Low while you prepare the other ingredients.
Finely dice one large _____ onion and throw it into the pot. Then chop up a variety of hot peppers. I usually like to throw some _________ and even a _______ into the mix for added heat. Don't be frugal on the peppers. 
For meat you have a choice. I usually go for the ____ _____ beef but I've also used _____, ______, or even ______. Just brown and drain it first. 
Of course you can't have chili without Chili. I get some off-the-shelf dried chili mix, which is basically chili powder, salt, cumin, and maybe some onion and garlic. I don't recommend some of the canned chili mixes because of all the weird ingredients like MSG etc.
Now we get down to the "secret" part of the recipe. Once all the ingredients are in, I throw in a bottle of ____. Feel free to have some sips (or your own bottle). I would go with one of the heavier styles.  
Cover it all with a lid and let it simmer on low/med low for _ hours, basically until it's nice and thick. I don't usually use any kind of thickener; if you cook it long enough it will thicken naturally. It is done when it gets a little hard to stir. 
The next "secret" part is the garnishes. After I take the chili off the heat, I squeeze in half a ____. I serve it with the other half, some chopped ______, and some shredded _____. I like to use corn chips to eat it with. 
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thoughts on Aging


Thoughts on Aging

Today we cleaned out some drawers that a mouse had gotten into. As we pulled out the clothes, we triaged them into 3 piles: trash, donateables, and keepers.

As I went through the clothes, I began to come to a realization:
All my life I've kept things because I thought someday I'd like to wear them, or just look at them. I kept stuff for nostalgic purposes.

Well now I'm 41. I don't want to wear a T-shirt I wore in High School. For any reason. I don't want to give any old shirts to my kids. I'm beginning to come to the realization that I don't want my old stuff anymore. It's just clutter. I'm not the same person I was 20+ years ago. I have different tastes and needs. I'm tired of having piles and piles of stuff that I've collected all my life. Collected for what? Some future me? I began to ask myself the question, "will I want this stuff another 20 years from now when I'm 60+?" And I realized the resounding answer was "NO".

It reminded me about what someone said after the Ragnar Race: "I'm just going to throw out my medal." What?? Huh? I love my race medals. But...will I really want a pile of dusty medals in 20 years for races I barely remember? What about the dozen shirts I collect each year from the various races I run in? Do I really need to collect reminders about everything I've done in my life? Do I need to keep everything in boxes and boxes all the way to the ceiling?

I think I want things simplified. I don't want tons of everything. Heck I'm getting tired of my fridge being full of beer. It's too much beer. I just want a few of them. I don't want piles of mail everywhere. Bills. Ads. It's just all junk that I have to deal with. Maybe I'm just getting old. And Grumpy.




Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Little Better

A Little Better

I ran the Firecracker 5000 on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It's a Midnight 5K race that runs around Seattle Center. Last year was a disaster...they ran out of numbers and I made it to the start only a minute before the gun. This year I arrived around 10:30, giving me tons of time to prepare and relax.



There are some nice things about running a race at night. I don't get any stomach issues for one. Also it's nice a cool, although it was a bit on the humid side. There's no sun beating down, and my feet felt good.

One thing that did shock me were the race shirts. For some unknown reason they decided on hot pink shirts. I could see this for RFTC or some women's race but really...how do you expect to advertise yourself if no one will wear your shirt? I don't think my wife or kids will wear it. It's the most hideous race shirt I've ever received. I don't know what goes into the design of these things but they really needed to think this one through.


So overall the race went well. It was really crowded at the start but I felt stronger than I've been in a while. The course is fairly hilly but with nothing too steep. I beat my year-to-date best by a second, so I think I'm finally turning the corner. The next 5K I do is in a month so I hope to really attack that one.

So now it's on to the Ragnar Relay, 16 miles in 3 legs...we'll see if I can do it.







Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why We Run

Why We Run


I was going to title this post "Seafair Hotf Marathon" or "Seafair Half Not-Cool Marathon" but then I realized there's really more to it.




This year they changed the course up a bit. This is the 3rd different course in the 4 years they've run it. I ran the last two halfs on the same course that started and finished in Downtown Bellevue. This year it started at Husky Stadium and ended in Bellevue. As soon as I heard this I thought, "why that's stupid...why not start in Bellevue and end in the stadium?" I thought it would be nice to finish out over the lake instead of starting. Also this route resulted in an overall gain of about 100 feet over the course of the race. 




They claimed that the best option was to take their shuttle buses from Bellevue to the stadium. I figured out that if I arrived by 6 that should give me plenty of time to warm up before the race. Well, if you've been reading this, you'll know that my race mornings never go well. There's always the inevitable (and endless) stomach issues. It's getting to the point where I think maybe I shouldn't eat the day before a race. I get there a little before 6, but of course it's run-to-the-portajohn time. By the time I get back to my car and get all my stuff ready, the line for the buses is a couple blocks long and...there are no buses. 




Long story short the buses arrive slowly. I don't get on 'til about 6:40, 20 mins before the start of the race. The last race I took a bus for, I arrived ~20 mins after the start of the race. I figured that if that happened today that would be fine since I planned to start at the back anyways. I arrive about 5 mins beforer 7, but they announced that they're delaying the start 15 mins. Good. Time for a quick stretch and one last potty break.




For some reason they moved this race a couple weekends earlier than the last few years. Maybe people had complained, maybe this is the only day they could do it. There was another race today that I wanted to do, and part of me wishes I had run it instead. Anyways, the weather had predicted 90's for today, and it didn't disappoint. I knew I was in trouble when the temp was 67 at 4:45 am. I had pulled out my lightest running shirt, something that's not more than a thin mesh. It was around 70 at the start and I was already sweating. I started in the back, and finally the race started.




This year's race crossed the infamous 520 bridge. This hellish piece of civil engineer passed its "useful lifespan" about ten years ago. The best thing to happen to I-90 was when it sunk in a storm, and I hope the same thing happens to 520 soon so we can improve it. But it was a nice clear day, only a little hazy but you could see the mountains and Bellevue skyline and Mt. Rainier in the distance. A very light breeze blew along the bridge at times.




My first mile went well, just cruising from the stadium down a ramp onto 520. I somehow managed a 10:01 mile but I think my GPS got confused from the ramp...it was more like 11. Second mile went well at 11:08. I felt good, didn't have much heel pain, tried to find the groove in the road that made my feet feel good. This mile brought us out over the water, through a clustering of marshes and lily pads. There also a big hill where boats can pass under the bridge.




Mile 3 in 11:05 contained a water stop which I passed since I had carried a bottle of water up until then. Still feeling good but starting to feel a little thirsty as the sun started beating down. Mile 4 in 11:46 was up off the bridge and onto dry land where the temperature increased noticeably. This split was +75 feet up.




The next three miles in 11:35, 11:27, and 11:19 were all either flat or gentle hills. I took some extra time at the water stops to make sure I had enough hydration. I still felt fine. I had a split of ~1:13 which wasn't bad given that I had estimated a finish of around 2:25 and I had run my last couple halfs with declining splits. 




Then came mile 8, and the wheels fell off the wagon. Someone put a huge hill, I mean 170 feet in 1/2 mile hill in the middle of the course. My heel was aching, my HR was way up, and I tried for a little bit but I just couldn't do it. Me and almost everyone around me wound up walking the hill. I've never walked in a half before, not even for water. According to my GPS I think I climbed that hill for almost 8 minutes. 8 mins for .5 mile is not good. I couldn't make the time up going back down either. Mile 8 finished in 13:56




From then on, the course was mostly up down up down endlessly. Fortunately a few people came out and hosed down the runners but it didn't help. I started eating my Sport Beans, drinking the Gleukos water, but nothing helped. My feet hurt and felt blistered (they weren't), my knees started aching (which they almost never do), my hip hurt, and I had very little energy left.




Mile 9 was back to 12:00, but I followed that with miles of 12:19, 12:27, and 13:41. My long run from last weekend I ran 12:00 miles, but today I had nothing at the end. Fortunately the last mile was all downhill and I did it in 11:48 but too little too late.




No PR, no course record, nothing.




So then why? Why do I do this to myself? I can barely walk from one side of the room to the other. 




All I know is that for the last few hundred meters, I had a grin ear-to-ear as I completed what was possibly the toughest race I had ever been in (or at least  2nd to 2006 Seattle Half Rainathon). But today was tough. At least 80 at the finish (I'm used to running in the 50's), leg-sapping hills, nagging injuries, it all comes down to that moment when I know I've done it and I survived to tell the tale. I know when I can push myself and today just wasn't the day. 




Well I've got a 5K later this week...got to keep up the training (and the icing). Maybe this ordeal has made me stronger. We'll see. Somehow it all seems worth it in the end.





Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dawn's Rise II Wordle!

Here's the first 10K of Dawn's Rise as a Wordle.
See if you can figure out the names of my main
characters. Be careful...some of the names are
actually place names.
(Click on it to see something a little more readable)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How I Write Part II

How I Write Part II

So I've decided to start out this new effort by abusing my characters. I'm not sure they really appreciate that. I think what I'm doing is laying out the challenges they are going to face during the course of the book. Also they had it coming for so cleverly escaping death in Book 1.

So the whole theme of
Dawn's Rise is all about disasters. I literally wrote up a whole listing of disasters. I called them Plagues. I then categorized them into 29 different sets of disasters.

Here is some of the list:
15. no clean water/thirst/desert
22.
Evil Robots
27.
No more oxygen

In Book 2, I used so many disasters up that I'm being forced to come up with new, novel ones. Whereas in the first book, society was basically a Utopia, the pinacle of man's acheivement, in this book I want to come full circle and create the worst society man has ever known. I want to create a society that makes the Nazi's look tame, although I think I need to skip on the genocide since there aren't enough people left.


I'm up to 10K words now and I still don't really know what the book is about. I'm 10% done but barely even started. The thing with me is that I'm terrible at planning, or thinking ahead. I'm starting out the characters at point X, pushing them to point Y where I'd like the story to end, but in between they're going to go every which way.


I don't really know why there are so many religious overtones to this book. It's not intentional, but the first book seems to be a little like the story of Noah, this current book is more like Moses.

What will the 3rd book be? If it's the culmination of a disaster chronical, then mankind must face the ultimate disaster. I have no idea what that is, but I probably have a year or two to think about it.


Well now I've lost the whole point of this post, which is something about writing. And how to write. First of all, don't start off sentences with 'And'. And Secondly...well you get the point. Just write. It's like running. I could spend all day planning my run, figuring out where to go and what to wear, or I could just throw on the old shoes and go and figure it out along the way, and get a good workout Just get in your mileage and soon enough you'll be running like a pro. And maybe doing some writing along the way.